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Volleyball Squads Split with Taft

The Palisades High girls and boys volleyball teams hosted a nonleague doubleheader against City Section rival Taft on Monday night with the results likely to have an impact on playoff seeding.

In the girls match, the Dolphins swept, 25-16, 25-21, 25-13, avenging a five-set road loss to the Toreadors on April 12. Coach Carlos Gray’s squad, which fell to Eagle Rock in the City Open Division finals in 2019, improved to 7-1 overall.

Then it was the boys’ turn and Taft won the boys match in four sets, 24-26, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21, less than one month after dropping a home meeting with Palisades by almost identical scores. Palisades’ only other blemish was in four sets to Chatsworth in its season opener April 9.

The Dolphins have yet to drop a set in Western League play in either girls or boys compettition. The girls’ season is normally played in the fall and the boys’ in the spring, but the sports are being played simultaneously this year due to COVID-19.

Pali High Tennis in Defense Mode

It is safe to say Palisades High’s boys tennis team is all too familiar with Western League rival Hamilton’s lineup. After all, the two teams have played each other three times in two weeks because all of the other schools in the league failed to field boys teams due to COVID-19.

“We normally have 18-20 matches and at least two tournaments,” Pali High Coach Bud Kling said. “Uni dropped its program at the last minute so the boys only get six matches plus playoffs.”

Palisades won all three of its matches against Hamilton, beat Beverly Hills and lost close to matches to Brentwood and Loyola. The Dolphins’ roster features Jax Frankel, Luke Shuman, Noah Zaret, Todd Volkov, Peter Garff, Connor Wooten, Jack Coven, Anthony Lieberman, Lucas Dickman and senior captains Alex Brous and Jeremy Nelson.

The Dolphins will try to make it 12 City Section titles in a row when the Open Division playoffs start next Wednesday. The team tournament was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Athlete of the Week

RYAN PECSOK

The starting libero for the men’s volleyball team at UC Santa Barbara, Ryan led all players in digs (17 in a four-set victory over Long Beach State and 12 more in a four-set win against UC San Diego) to help the Gauchos capture the Big West Tournament championship April 24. Ryan played in two matches in the COVID-shortened season in 2020. After going to St. Matthew’s he was a libero for three years at Loyola High, where he was a First-Team All-Mission League choice and helped the Cubs win the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title in 2016 and the Southern California regional title in 2017. Ryan played for Pacific Palisades Volleyball Club, MB Surf Volleyball Club and Lades Volleyball Club, winning bronze medals in 2015 and 2017. UCSB earned a berth in this week’s NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio. To nominate your favorite Palisadian for Athlete of the Week, email sports@palipost.com.

AYSO Extra Tryouts May 6-20

Registration is now underway for the AYSO Region 69 EXTRA program, a tryout-based competitive game-circuit solution that offers a higher level of soccer for players with the appropriate skills, abilities and drive.   The season runs from mid-August 2021 to early June 2022.

Players participate in a Fall league made up of EXTRA teams from other  AYSO regions. Teams practice twice a week; one of those practices is run by a professional trainer, the other by a parent coach. In the winter and spring teams play in tournaments across the Southland.

Go to the website www.ayso69.org and select the 2021 EXTRA Program. Registration must be complete prior to attending.

Tryouts are May 6-20 at Will Rogers State Park. Enter at the kiosk and park in the lower lot. Temperature checks are mandatory. Players should wear masks, shin guards, cleats and have water. Pick-up is at same location. Players not selected for EXTRA will be invited to join the Player Development Program in the fall. If you are interested in being a coach, email Corinne@aspiresoccercoaching.com.

EXTRA tryouts schedule is as follows:

GIRLS (2012): May 6 & 13, 5-6:30; May 8, 11:30-12:20; May 19, 5:15-6:30; GIRLS (2011):  May 12, 5:15-6:30; May 15, 11:30-12:20; May 20, 4-5:15; GIRLS (2010, 2009): May 8 & 15, 8:30-9:20; May 13, 5:15-6:30; May 19, 4-5:15.

BOYS (2012): May 6 & 13, 4-5:15; May 8, 12:30-1:15; May 12, 5:15-6:30; BOYS (2011): May 12, 4-5:15; May 13 4-5:15; May 15, 12:30-1:15; BOYS ( 2010, 2009): May 6 & 13, 5:15-6:30; May 8, 12:30-1:15; May 19, 5:15-6:30.

Casa Nostra, Offices Sustain Damage in Shopping Center Fire

Eduardo Salcido, handyman for the property, looks over debris.
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating the cause of a fire that broke out on the first floor of a two-story shopping center in the Highlands on Thursday night, April 22.

Crews responded at 10:28 p.m. to the fire, which spread to businesses on the second floor of the complex and burned for 41 minutes before being extinguished, according to LAFD Spokesperson Brian Humphrey.

The first arriving 35 LAFD firefighters extinguished the “stubborn” fire from the walls of the first-floor restaurant, Casa Nostra, located at 1515 Palisades Drive near Palisades Circle. A knock down was called at 11:09 p.m.

The fire burned through and damaged offices on the second floor of the complex. Joe Cirillo, general manager of the property, told the Palisadian-Post only one unit faced “significant” fire damage, while a number of units were damaged by smoke, which he explained is “very resolvable.”

Adrian Maizey surveys damage in his office.

Palisadian Adrian Maizey said he was alarmed after waking up to messages saying, “Dude, check your office, I think your office is burning down.”

Maizey’s unit is located above Casa Nostra and received the bulk of the fire damage, he said.

“Everything is basically lost, my memorabilia that was in the office … the fire caused the damage but the smoke caused the most damage,” Maizey said. “Unfortunately, everything is damaged.”

Palisadian Gary Bettman, COO and producer of The Miller Group Marketing, also has an office above the restaurant and described the damage to his unit as “pervasive.”

“It’s smoke damage beyond your wildest perception, I didn’t know how invasive … smoke damage can be,” Bettman said to the Post. “Our office filled up with smoke for over two hours before anybody thought to open a window or door … our artwork is ruined, the chairs … every little thing. Everything that has a surface is messed up big time.

“You come in ready to pitch to a new client and all of a sudden your whole life is turned around.”

Cirillo said all tenants of the property have been cooperative, and the insurance company of the building and the insurance company of the restaurant are involved in resolving damages. He said he is not sure how long it’s going to take, but he that believes the property damage will be resolved and back to normal “hopefully within a short period of time.”

Bettman and Cirillo both praised LAFD’s diligence and quick response to the fire.

Casa Nostra did not respond to requests for comment as the Post went to print on Tuesday.

Monetary loss from the fire is still being tabulated and the cause remains in the category of “under investigation,” according to Humphrey. No injuries were reported.

PPCC Adopts Position Statement Opposing Use of Beaches, Parks for Homeless Housing

Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

The Pacific Palisades Community Council unanimously adopted a motion at its April 22 meeting opposing the use of beaches, beach parking lots and parks for homeless housing in response to Councilmember Mike Bonin’s proposal that city officials evaluate and identify funding for supportive housing sites across West Los Angeles, including the Palisades.

Bonin submitted a motion on Wednesday, March 31, requesting city officials look into the use of the county-owned parking lot at Will Rogers State Beach, located at 17000 CA-1, as a temporary site for single-occupancy tiny homes or safe camping to shelter people experiencing homelessness.

PPCC discussed the motion at length at its Thursday, April 22, meeting, which was attended by more than 100 participants.

Temporary Field Deputy for Council District 11 Len Nguyen addressed attendees during the meeting and reported that while the councilmember has heard significant opposition to the motion, “homelessness is the biggest crisis the city has faced in generations” and that emergency measures are necessary.

Nguyen said when the city announced the tentative use of Palisades Recreation Center as a designated emergency homeless shelter in 2020, feedback at the time suggested the use of the beach parking lot instead.

“The councilmember understands that no location is ideal, and he’s happy to work [and] consider alternatives to Will Rogers parking lot,” he said.

PPCC Chair David Card provided an overview of a four-page  proposed position statement at the Executive Committee’s request, emphasizing the importance of preserving public access to the beach as a public resource, safety and health hazards that Bonin’s motion proposes—including the risk of fires, safety and adverse impacts on children—insufficient enforcement, and more.

Board and audience members voiced opposition to the motion: Public comments drew attention to the fact that Will Rogers State Beach is one of the local beaches the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Junior Lifeguard Program serves.

“The beach is to Los Angeles just as Central Park is to New York City,” Card said. “The PPCC strongly opposes the use of public beaches, parks and any open space dedicated for public recreational use in the city and/ or county of Los Angeles … including county-operated parking lots at Will Rogers State Beach.”

The committee submitted the position statement as a motion to be adopted by the board, which unanimously voted to approve the position statement.

The PPCC Executive Committee shared the position statement in a letter to officials—including Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA City Council President Nury Martinez and Bonin—on Friday, April 23, urging that the Will Rogers State Beach and Dockweiler Beach parking lots, unless approved by clear public consensus, be removed as locations proposed for homeless housing.

The committee also shared the position statement with the U.S. District Court in response to the federal homeless lawsuit, LA Alliance for Human Rights v. City of Los Angeles, et al.

Judge David O. Carter issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, April 20, ordering local governments to develop a report within 30 days that identifies available land in their district.

“We agree that housing and services for the homeless are urgently needed in Los Angeles … however, the proposal to use the beach parking lots would have the opposite effect of what your Honor seeks to accomplish, as expressed in the April 20 ruling,” the letter states.

On Monday, April 26, PPCC sent letters to LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and California State Senator Ben Allen requesting they make their position on the matter public.

Community members await the next step for Bonin’s proposal, which is a hearing in the Homelessness and Poverty Committee—the timing of which is determined by that committee’s chair.

Shane Smith Compound Sale Breaks Home Price Record for Palisades

Photo courtesy of MLS

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

The record for most expensive home sold in Pacific Palisades was broken last week by Shane Smith, who sold his Santa Monica Canyon estate for $48.67 million.

Smith, executive chairman and co-founder of Vice Media, originally purchased the home in 2015 for $23 million. He listed the home for $50 million at the start of February and sold it on April 19 for $48,674,649, according to CLAW, the Combined LA/Westside MLS.

Dubbed “Villa Ruchello,” the “self-contained, 3.35-acre, tree-lined compound” features 13 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms, spread out over 14,000 square feet of living space across three structures, according to the listing.

“The Mediterranean-style estate built in 1932 has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation, showcasing exquisite detail by designer Kerry Joyce,” the listing continued. “The extensive remodel meticulously restored the original details and Hollywood grandeur while infusing the latest modern advancements and finest, curated materials sourced from around the world.”

Upon entering the compound, antique gates open to a tree-lined drive, leading to the main residence. A double-height entrance highlights stairs crafted from Moroccan ceramic tile as well as white oak.

“Envisioned for both large-scale entertaining and intimate home life, the lush, sprawling estate boasts two guest houses, dual kitchens, expansive lawns, citrus tree groves, edible gardens, private water wells, water filtration system and full generator system, providing everything one needs in the luxury and comfort of home in the Santa Monica Canyon,” the listing states.

The listing was held by The Agency’s Santiago Arana, with Richard Ehrlich of Westside Estate Agency representing the buyer.

“Broke another record,” Arana wrote in a post on Instagram following the sale. “Highest sale ever between Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica.”

Though the address falls into a Santa Monica zip code, the home is located in Santa Monica Canyon, which is considered “Area 7” on the Pacific Palisades Community Council map and part of the city of Los Angeles.

The home was formerly owned by author-screenwriter Victoria Foy and film director Henry Jaglom, according to a report by the LA Times. It has also been used as a location for HBO series “Entourage” and “Beverly Hills Cop.”

Born in Ottawa, Canada, Smith joined co-founders Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes in acquiring Voice of Montreal, a youth magazine, in 1994—one year after its founding. They changed the name to Vice.

Vice Media now operates an international network of digital channels, a television production studio, a record label, an in-house creative services agency, a book-publishing house and a feature film division. Smith served as CEO from its founding until March 2018.

The record for most expensive house transaction in the Palisades was previously held by Bui Simon, a former Miss Universe winner turned philanthropist who purchased a Riviera home for $33.8 million in 2018. The seven-bedroom, 13-bath “English mansion-style” white brick house was completed in 2005.

The original $11 million home on the 1.39-acre lot bought in 2002 was transformed by New York architects Ferguson & Shamamian for the late Michael King.

Diptyque Opens at Palisades Village

Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Diptyque opened its Palisades Village boutique on Saturday, April 24—taking over the space formerly occupied by Cynthia Rowley.

First founded in Paris in 1961 at 34 boulevard Saint-Germain, diptyque is a French luxury fragrance brand that produces eau de parfum, eau de toilette, scented candles and perfume oil diffusers, with storefronts in Paris at its original location, London, Tokyo, New York City, Hong Kong, Basel, Doha, Dubai, Milan, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago and now Pacific Palisades.

Neighborhood News

Two Saturday Afternoon Rescues  |  Pacific Palisades

A mountain biker and hiker were rescued in separate incidents in Pacific Palisades on Saturday, April 24, according to Los Angeles Fire Department Spokesperson Nicholas Prange.

“LAFD is responding to a remote area where an adult male mountain biker has been injured,” according to an LAFD alert posted at 1:04 p.m. regarding the incident at 4000 Sullivan Fire Road.

Firefighter-paramedics were with the patient, who was treated and transported via air ambulance to a local hospital. Ground crews continued through to recover the mountain bike, which was left behind by Air Ops.

LAFD Air Ops then hoisted an injured 36-year-old female around 1:48 p.m. at 575 Los Liones Drive. She was transported by air to a local hospital. No further details were available.

—SARAH SHMERLING


Womans Club Annual Meeting  |  Pacific Palisades

The Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club will host its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be offered via Zoom.

As of April 1, the club has a newly elected board, according to President Kathy Later.

“We’re very excited to have over 75 members renew membership in the last two weeks and are coordinating a variety of community projects scheduled for June to February,” Later shared. “It’s rewarding to bring these women back together again for ‘fun, friendship and philanthropy’ in Pacific Palisades.”

Anyone who is interested in joining the annual meeting is encouraged to email info@theppwc.org for more information.

—SARAH SHMERLING


CinqueTerre to Host Mothers Day Brunch  |  The Village

CinqueTerre WEST Osteria will offer a Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday, May 9.

The restaurant, located at 970 Monument Street in Suite 110, will be open between 8:30 and 11 a.m. for cornetti to go, with brunch available between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“We will be offering dishes from our breakfast menu pre-pandemic as well as a few dishes from our regular menu,” Marlo Vinzoni shared.

Menu offerings include Omelette, Baked Eggs, Green Eggs, Classic Breakfast, and Steak and Eggs.

For more information, visit cinqueterrewest.com or call 310-454-0709.            

—SARAH SHMERLING


From the Eyes to the Hands  |  Topanga

Photos courtesy of Topanga Canyon Gallery

The “From the Eyes to the Hands” exhibit is on display at Topanga Canyon Gallery through May 16.

The exhibit features the work of Farideh Azad and Donna Geist Buch. It is open Friday to Sunday between 12 and 5 p.m., or by appointment.

“Without the hand, the conception in the artist’s eye is just a conception and the hand has nothing to craft,” the gallery shared in a statement about the exhibit. “In art, conception is an idea, the originating of something in the mind visually, that gives the artist the ability to work their imagination. The physical work of the hands, together with the mental creative process, by use of the eyes, is what you will view in this exhibition created by Donna Geist Buch and Farideh Azad.”

For more information, visit topangacanyongallery.com.

—SARAH SHMERLING

Pali High Board of Trustees Discusses Campus Reopening Plans

Members of the board
Photo courtesy of Pali High

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

The Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees met virtually on Tuesday, April 20, to discuss updates regarding a future return to campus.

Principal Dr. Pam Magee and Director of Operations Don Parcell addressed school changes and updates in response to COVID-19. The school is reportedly approaching Phase Five of its Reopening Roadmap, where up to 50% of willing students may be able to be on campus at a time where they will be assigned a classroom to Zoom from. This is slated to begin Monday, May 3.

During this phase, students will continue following the same schedules in place during distance learning from classrooms with supervision from a Pali High teacher or staff member, even if it is not their respective teacher. Students will either attend classes on campus on Monday and Tuesday, or Wednesday and Thursday.

“We were looking for a design that doesn’t disrupt the relationship that people have built with their specific teacher,” Magee said. “If you’re wondering what’s the philosophy behind what Pali has designed, that’s a big piece of it: trying to be equitable, trying to ensure consistent instruction.”

Pali High’s Reopening Roadmap leads up to Phase Eight, where the school hopes to return to “pre-COVID” functionality.

Magee revealed that Pali High plans to fully reopen on August 18 for the 2021-22 academic school year without any restrictions on volume of students, physical distancing or bell schedules—as permitted by governing entities. The school would continue to provide personal protective equipment and daily disinfecting throughout the year.

Magee said there will be discussions with union and labor partners, but that she hoped attendees would rally around the intent to reopen school as normal.

There was a motion made for the Board of Trustees to approve the plan to fully reopen to in-person instruction in August as presented by Magee. After some discussion, the motion was passed unanimously.

A COVID-19 Safety and Reopening Task Force has also been established to create, plan and implement procedures regarding the virus among the Pali High community. Magee said the task force is stakeholder based and plenty of parents are a part of it, meeting weekly and currently focusing on the fall reopening plan.

“We have other advisors who are coming in, whether they are epidemiologists or other experts, who I think will play a huge role in helping us interpret the guidance that’s coming from all the various entities,” Magee said during the meeting. “At this point, I think that we’re really on top of what those ordinances are as we move forward with making plans for the remainder of this school year and … moving into next year.”

Pali High recently introduced a COVID-19 case rate dashboard on its website, recording the volume of staff and students on site, as well as confirmed active cases. There were three active COVID-19 student cases reported as the Post went to print Tuesday evening.